School District 23 (SD23) is confident everything that can be done to reduce potential COVID-19 transmissions is in place.
SD23 superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal continues to stress that schools are safe.
“We really care about your kids, and we care about our staff, and we’re doing everything that we can to reduce the risk of transmission,” Kaardal said.
Almost daily, new cases have been announced at schools across the school district this past week.
At Ecole Kelowna Secondary School (KSS), a number of exposures have been announced in the past few weeks.
Kaardal stressed the cases at the schools have been a result of non-symptomatic individuals entering the schools, isolated exposure cases.
Those infected so far, he said, have been both staff and students.
In some cases, numerous individuals have entered into self-isolation as directed by Interior Health.
Kaardal again stressed this has been done out of an abundance of caution.
He said the school district has encountered only one case involving an individual who came to school knowing they were sick.
“People have been really careful to not come to school sick, whether staff or students,” he said.
He added that as soon as individuals have symptoms, they are getting tested.
He acknowledged it seems as though there are many cases at KSS, however, compared to the roughly 2,000 students at the school, he said the number of cases are below one per cent.
He said KSS case numbers are simply reflecting the numbers occurring in the community.
He is encouraged by the fact Interior Health region is not experiencing the same numbers of COVID-19 cases seen in the Lower Mainland.
He’s also encouraged by conversations with local health officers.
“Medical (Interior Health) health officers continue to tell me they are very pleased regarding the fact there doesn’t seem to be transmission in schools, and if there is, it’s very minimal and being caught by the protocols we have in place to reduce that risk,” he said.
He feels it remains critical for kids to attend school.
“I think the really important message is that schools are really important for kids, for their academic development, mental and social health,” Kaardal said.
“The risks of not having school far outweigh the current experience we’re having in schools.”
Kaardal acknowledged the fear and uncertainty about the pandemic in the community. “It’s quite understandable, and we encourage people to contact their principals and have a conversation.”
There, principals can share with community members SD23’s ‘robust and layered’ plan to keep students and staff safe while learning, he noted.
“If there’s worry, then I think you need to do your part to close down your bubble, and let’s get this under control in the community,” Kaardal said.
“All of us have our personal responsibility to follow the directions of Bonnie Henry, reduce our bubbles, stop social activities outside…let’s get this curve flattened.
“A safe community means safer schools.”
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